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What Really Makes a Medicine Hat Horse?
 By mosquito   •   4th Aug 2010   •   25,951 views   •   14 comments
The myth and mystery of the Medicine Hat horse goes back many, many years. The Medicine Hat horse is a special animal, supposed to have special powers, and is very rare. They have been immortalized in stories like in Marguerite Henry’s book ‘San Domingo’, which was also honored by a Breyer model and a motion picture.

Medicine Hat horseBut what is a Medicine Hat horse? Basically, it’s a pinto horse, but one with a very specific marking. The horse is almost entirely white, but has a colored patch covering the ears and the top of the head. A Medicine Hat can have other markings, but the less they have the more powerful they were believed to be. It is sometimes mistakenly believed that a Medicine Hat also had to have certain other markings, such as a spot over its chest (a ‘shield’), but in reality the most prized Medicine Hats were all white except for the poll marking. The distinguishing head markings are what makes up the ‘medicine hat’, or ‘war bonnet’. Medicine Hats often have pink muzzles, and those with one or more blue eyes are especially prized.

The mythology of the Medicine Hat horse is steeped in Native American tradition and legend. A Medicine Hat horse is believed to have a magical ability to protect its rider from injury or death in battle, and were thought to have special abilities to warn their riders of danger and to find wild game hiding in forests or canyons. The mainly white coats were often decorated with other magical symbols, believed to increase the horse’s powers.

Tribes would try and steal the Medicine Hat horse of another tribe, believing that in doing so they would have the horse’s good luck, and steal the good luck of the other tribe. A Medicine Hat horse was closely guarded by a tribe, and was a central part of a very complicated belief system the horse was much more than a ‘good luck charm’.

Are there Medicine Hat horses today? Of course the ‘medicine hat’ marking can still occur, and is found in pintos of almost any breed, although it is still most common in Mustangs and their close relations, the Spanish Barb. That said, Einstein, the newly born tiny foal getting a lot of attention for his small size, is also just about a Medicine Hat, as is his pony mother.



Are they magical? Who knows? There is certainly something special about these horses. It may just be that they have such striking and unusual markings, but it may be something more. If when you see one, you sense something magical, then maybe you’ll know!
What Really Makes a Medicine Hat Horse?
What Really Makes a Medicine Hat Horse?
What Really Makes a Medicine Hat Horse?
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